Cuba has a cinematic tradition that goes back to the late nineteenth century when a number of theatres in Havana adopted the new technology to show short films, and this expanded in the decades that followed to include film production too, but in the years immediately following the revolution it reached its pinnacle.
Cultural exploits were encouraged by the new regime, and a department was created to support the production of documentaries. A culture law passed at this time declared that film was “the most powerful and provocative form of artistic expression, and the most direct and widespread vehicle for education and bringing ideas to the public.” In other words its potential as a propaganda tool was swiftly recognised. Revolutionary and anti-imperialist themes were encouraged, but not exclusively. Perhaps the most famous film produced, Lucia, is a historical drama told through the eyes of three women who share the name.
With so much output, you need places to show the films so Havana is dotted with cinemas. The age of the multiplex has passed Cuba by, so seeing these places with the current features emblazoned on boards that require manual updates brought a sense of nostalgia.